Tony George Q&A

As the boss of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Anton Hulman George is a big player in American motor sport. The loss of the Indy 500 to George's IRL series is still being keenly felt by CART, while NASCAR's Brickyard 400, established in 1994, instantly became one of the most prestigious races in the Winston Cup schedule. Now George is becoming known internationally. In September Formula 1 arrives at Indianapolis for the first time, and despite some pessimistic predictions, the signs are positive. Appealing ticket prices, which are far lower than in the rest of the world, have resulted in a capacity crowd for the first event. Whether people come back in 2001 and beyond is the question which remains to be answered. Adam Cooper spoke to George about the latest news from Indy

Tony George Q&A

"We are pleased with the way it went. I was hopeful that we would sell out. That was our intent when we considered the pricing, but I just hope that we can sustain that level of interest in the future. A lot of it is going to depend on the quality and the type of show that the fans see."

"That's right. There's not a lot I can do about that! But hopefully in time we'll be able to develop a better feel and understanding about F1, and be able to make meaningful suggestions."

"No, we did not package anything. We never do that with our races. We feel that the fans most often prefer to make their purchases on their own. I'm sure we have some cross over, but I don't know how much."

"I don't know. I think there's always a chance that with three events instead of one now, some people will make decisions on which event they attend. I expect the demand will continue to be high on the 500. I guess only time will tell on that. We'll have to wait a year or two and see how it's affected."

"I haven't. I expect like our other races that a very high concentration comes from a one day drive of Indianapolis. But we'll definitely have guests from all over the world, more so than at any of the other events. I don't know the percentages, but there are a lot of race fans in the Midwest who are looking forward to Indianapolis hosting the US GP."

"I'm not real sure. He didn't say much. I don't think anyone else has been yet. I guess there are going be concerns, and I'd rather know sooner than later if there are concerns, so we can address them and deal with the. The track's not totally finished yet, so we've still got some time."

"It seems like we've been behind on the media centre for several months now. I hope we catch up, and I think it will be finished by September. But that's about it. The circuit is coming along. We're just finishing out the race control and the media centre; they are the biggest construction projects we have."

"I think if it's wet it could be interesting! The circuit is very fast in parts, it's very slow in other parts. So it will be interesting to see what set-up they select. That should create some interesting challenges."

"I still may come to one or two - I'm looking at Austria as a possible date, although I'd have to miss an IRL race."

"I'm not around F1 enough to really become totally comfortable with the culture, and European business dealings. I've felt somewhat new. But Bernie has taken me into his confidence on certain things, and I've come to appreciate that. I guess it maybe means something. But he's tough, he obviously successful, and I think anyone you talk to respects him for what he's built and what he's done. I don't think everyone always agrees with him or likes what he does, but I think they respect what he does. He's always been fair with me. He doesn't always tell me what I want to hear, but he has always been good to his word."

"One can always look back and think you could have done better. This is going to be a long-term venture, and I think we both want it to be successful, for all concerned. It's going to be a much bigger challenge than the 400. But it's the prestige of having most if not all of the world's greatest drivers racing at your venue during the course of the year. You're never going to get them all together in one race, but to have the great drivers from NASCAR, Indycars and F1 running at your circuit in some point of the year is an honour that really no one else can make claim to."

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